“…whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.”–Mark 10:43-44
Pastor Alan Carr told the story of a rice farmer who saved an entire village from destruction. He said, “From his hilltop farm he felt the earth quake and saw the distant ocean swiftly withdraw from the shore line. He knew that a tidal wave was coming.
In the valley below, he saw his neighbors working low fields that would soon be flooded. They must run quickly to his hilltop or they would all die. His rice barns were dry as tinder.
So with a torch he set fire to his barns and soon the fire gong started ringing. His neighbors saw the smoke and rushed to help him. Then from their safe perch they saw the tidal wave wash over the fields they had just left.
In a flash they knew not only who had saved them but what their salvation had cost their benefactor. They later erected a monument to his memory bearing the motto, “He gave us all he had, and gave gladly.” This poor farmer finished first in the eyes of his community, but it cost him everything he had.
There are not many people in our world like that farmer. He willingly sacrificed himself that others might succeed. Most people do everything they can to better themselves, and think nothing of the people they step on behind as they climb to the top of the heap.
This text (Mark 10:35-45) is designed to teach us the truth that not everyone who finishes first is victorious. Sometimes those who take the last seat, those who willingly finish last, are the real winners in the game of life.
I think it is clear from reading the Gospels that our Lord’s disciples were anything but humble men. They were always in the business of trying to promote themselves. On several occasions, Jesus sought to combat that mentality, but they never seemed to get the message.
In this passage, we see selfish ambition in all of its ugliness. James and John come to Jesus asking for the top seats in His kingdom. Jesus uses this event to teach us all some valuable lessons about leadership, service to others and forgiveness.